This furniture delay is testing my patience

delayed furniture

Debbie McNulty’s custom credenza from California Modern Woodworks is missing — and so is the refund the company promised her. What should she do about this furniture delay? And will she ever see her money again?


I have a question about a furniture delay. I placed an order with California Modern Woodworks more than a year ago. The company charged for the full amount of the purchase for the custom credenza.

Unfortunately, I didn’t ask how long it would take to build, but since they are located right here in California I thought it would be reasonable to receive the credenza in two to four months at the most.

It took longer than that. I have followed up with California Modern Woodworks continually since then. At one point, a representative told me it was ready to ship, but that the shipper was unavailable to ship for another week.

When I asked to see photos of the completed credenza, it became obvious that it really wasn’t complete after all. To make amends, they offered to refund of my shipping fees. But they haven’t sent that, either.

The last time I asked about the shipping fee refund, a representative told me it would take “another 8 to 10 days” to process. I still don’t have it.

The credenza arrived today. It was damaged and wasn’t the high-quality piece I expected. I have a list of issues with the poor workmanship. I called California Modern Woodworks to let them know I would be sending the credenza back, and they agreed to give me a full refund.

Based on my experience with this company and the fact that they have been promising me a $350 credit since May, I have little faith that I will ever see the refund.

Can you please advise how long is reasonable to wait for a refund of this type? If it doesn’t arrive in a reasonable time can you assist me? — Debbie McNulty, Los Gatos, Calif.


That’s some furniture delay! It shouldn’t have taken more than a year to get your custom credenza. Also, you should have received a sideboard of acceptable quality.

California Modern Woodworks offers “hand crafted luxury credenzas and tables” on its site, and their pieces look gorgeous. It doesn’t mention anything about how long it takes to customize its furniture. But you had no reason to believe your credenza wouldn’t be delivered quickly — or be of the highest quality.

Furniture problems are not uncommon on this site. Here’s a recent “Problem Solved” case involving a sofa warranty from Macy’s.

I reviewed your written correspondence with the company about your delayed custom credenza. Unfortunately, the credenza didn’t meet your expectations. The base, you noted, was not finished. The finish on the legs appeared to be spray painted. The doors weren’t aligned, and the underside looked damaged.

Unfortunately, this was not California Modern Woodworks’ best work. Fortunately, it readily agreed to refund your money and take the piece back. But the question is, will it?

When companies issue refunds, they have to do their due diligence. Just as you take your time before clicking the “buy” button, carefully reading the terms and conditions and reading the reviews.

I think you might have asked for a timeline for delivery from California Modern Woodworks before you agreed to spend your hard-earned money on a custom credenza. And, frankly, I’m surprised the company didn’t tell you.

How to contact the company about your furniture delay

A brief, polite note sent to the company should have fixed this. California Modern Woodworks isn’t a huge corporation, and your email to [email protected] should have been quickly routed to the right person.

I think the company should have sent you the shipping refund, and ultimately, the furniture refund, quickly. Given the lengthy delays you experienced, I’m not sure you would have received your money quickly.

After you reached out to me via my consumer advocacy organization, I contacted the company on your behalf. They responded quickly, and the company sent you a check for $3,217, the full amount you spent on your delayed custom credenza and shipping.

Posted in Problem Solved Tagged , , ,

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t. He’s the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, and the Washington Post. If you have a consumer problem you can’t solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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